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Original Research

Identification of barriers to the implementation of evidence-based practice for pre-hospital thrombolysis

Submitted: 12 October 2008
Revised: 28 January 2009
Published: 6 March 2009

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Author(s) : Bloe C, Mair C, Call A, Fuller A, Menzies S, Leslie SJ.

Stephen Leslie

Citation: Bloe C, Mair C, Call A, Fuller A, Menzies S, Leslie SJ.  Identification of barriers to the implementation of evidence-based practice for pre-hospital thrombolysis. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2009; 9: 1100. Available: (Accessed 18 October 2017)


Introduction:  Thrombolysis for patients with an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) is most effective if given promptly. In remote areas, pre-hospital thrombolysis has been shown to be effective and reduce mortality. However, pre-hospital thrombolysis may offer advantages even in urban areas in terms of reduced ‘call to needle’ times. General practitioners’ attitudes are crucial in the delivery of this service. Differences in perceptions between rural or remote and urban GPs have not been examined previously. The aim of this study was to investigate the attitudes and beliefs of GPs with a view to pre-empting potential barriers to service redesign.
Methods:  A questionnaire was sent by email and conventional post to all local GPs (n = 261) located in the study area (Highland Region in the North of Scotland). Data were entered into an Excel spreadsheet for statistical analysis. For the purposes of further analysis the data were divided into three groups: ‘urban’, ‘rural’ and ‘undefined’. Data were analysed by either unpaired Student’s t-test or χ2 statistic as appropriate, with significance taken at the 5% level. Qualitative responses were grouped following thematic analysis.
Results:  There was a 49% (n = 127) response. More questionnaires were returned by conventional post than email (106 vs 21, p < 0.0001). There did not appear to be a relationship between confidence in giving pre-hospital thrombolysis and number of years worked as a GP. Rural GPs who had previously administered pre-hospital thrombolysis reported higher confidence compared with GPs who had never given pre-hospital thrombolysis (7.5 ± 1.7 vs 6.3 ± 2.0, p = 0.01). Responses to two open questions: ‘What do you think are the main factors preventing delivery of pre-hospital thrombolysis?’ and ‘What more could be done to increase your own willingness to administer pre-hospital thrombolysis?’ were classified into four areas: training, experience, organisational and equipment issues.
Conclusions:  Several potential barriers to improving the uptake of pre-hospital thrombolysis were highlighted and included training, experience, equipment and organisational factors. Rural GPs were more likely to be confident to give thrombolysis. To implement pre-hospital thrombolysis in areas closer to hospitals may require greater support and training of urban GPs, who reported lower confidence in ECG analysis. Many GPs, while under-confident, reported a desire for further training to improve skills. Other GPs clearly stated that they did not consider emergency treatment of myocardial infarction in terms of thrombolysis as part of their role and that the treatment of acute STEMI in the community should be performed by the ambulance service. This view was held by urban rather than rural GPs. In remote areas it is clear that lack of ambulance crews and poor communication between the ambulance service and GPs leads to instances of ‘scoop and run’ to hospital, even when the distances are considerable and local GPs have the ability and desire to administer pre-hospital thrombolysis. Clear local clinical care pathways are recommended.

Key words:  ambulance service, GP perceptions, pre-hospital thrombolysis, urban, remote and rural.

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